Posted On: 01/11/18 5:40 PM
While it would be hard to pinpoint any players on a national ranked team as “overlooked,” Montverde’s bigs have been an under noticed component integral to the program’s success this season.
Kevin Boyle’s 21-0 team is synonymous with Duke-signee R.J. Barrett. An electrifying finisher with an adroit left-handed sling shot, the 6-foot-7 Barrett has been the No.1 player in the country.
Ever since the Class of 2018 forward turned in a 38-point barrage and grabbed 13 boards in leading Canada to a wild 99-87 win over team USA in the FIBA U-19 Basketball World Cup this summer, Barrett has looked the part of the best high school player on the planet. There is no hype or hyperbole in giving him that title.
While Barrett’s play has been the driving force for Montverde’s rapid ascent to the country’s No.1 team in the USA Today Sports Super 25 rankings, Kevin Boyle’s frontline deserves significant credit.
Makhel Mitchell, who thrived in the program’s visit to China last month, had 17 points and 10 boards during a thorough 71-43 throttling of Jefferson (Portland, Oregon) in the title of the Iolani Classic in Honolulu.
A 6-foot-9 forward from District Heights, Md., Mitchell scored 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots in Montverde’s thorough thrashing of LUHI of Long Island, N.Y. in the Beach Ball Classic.
He had help from Filip Petrusev, a 6-foot-11 Serbian who committed to Gonzaga prior to the 2017-18 campaign. A multi-faceted forward who can shoot and dish the ball jarringly well for a big man, Petrusev scored 13 points in the LUHI victory. While the tandem combined to shoot the ball at a scalding 12-for-18 clip, it was their rim protection that helped Montverde cruise to the win.
The tandem blocked, altered the trajectory of, and manipulated countless shots in the post. A majority of the shots LUHI missed were from seven feet out, a telling statistic indicative of Montverde’s sealing the basket shut.
The frontline will get an addition in tonight’s matchup against Montverde Academy on ESPN2 with the arrival of 7-foot-1 Center Balsa Koprivica.
In a heavily-billed local and national matchup against Central Florida powers, the highly lauded recruit will get his first quality minutes of the season. Koprivica, a five-star recruit, transferred from Windermere Prep in December.